Provincial press releases

Biography of former Archbishop

A new biography of a former Archbishop of Wales has been published.

Archbishop Gwilym Owen Williams – known as “G.O.” – led the Church in Wales for 11 years and was also one of its longest serving bishops. He was elected Bishop of Bangor in 1957 and continued that role once elected as Archbishop in 1971. He retired in 1982.  In national life, Archbishop G.O. was famously part of a delegation which helped to persuade the first government of Margaret Thatcher to establish S4C, the Welsh language television station.

His biography has been written by church historian Canon William Price, who is also the Church in Wales’ Provincial Adviser on Archives. Titled, Archbishop Gwilym Williams – ‘G.O.’ – His Life and Opinions, the book follows G.O.’s life from his birth in East Finchley and also explores matters of importance to him, such as bilingualism and ecumenism, and his significance to Wales.

The foreword is written by the recently retired Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan.

“’G.O., as he was almost universally known, was a man of outstanding intellectual ability and wide vision, often ahead of the diocese and the Church in Wales,” says Canon Price. “He sought always to be a reconciler, especially in his ecumenical endeavours and also in a bilingual society, and he has rightly been regarded as the foremost Welsh Christian leader of his time.”

Canon William Price

It’s a biography which Canon Price began more than 25 years ago while lecturing at the University of Wales, Lampeter, he says.

“I was invited by Archbishop George Noakes to write a biography of Archbishop G. O. Williams, so I went to Criccieth and collected G.O.’s papers. It took a long time to sort out boxes and boxes of them, and then I wrote what was about 80% of the final work. After my departure from Lampeter into parochial ministry, however, first in Wales and then in England, I became committed to other writing projects, and I left my work on G.O. unfinished. But last year I decided that he deserved to be remembered and that it was foolish to abandon a largely completed typescript. So I completed the book and got it published.”

“I am grateful to the former Archbishop Dr Barry Morgan for writing the foreword to the book, and also to the Isla Johnston Trusts for a grant towards publication.”

Copies (£10) may be obtained in the Cathedral shop in Bangor, Churches Together bookshop, Windsor Place, Cardiff,  or from the author (by post £13), 57 Kynaston Drive, Wem, Shrewsbury SY4 5DE.